It’s time to rank the Minnesota Timberwolves’ top draft picks of the 2010s.
For small-market NBA teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, the draft is considered the best way to acquire talent and a key event in any offseason for that reason.
As the 2020 NBA Draft slowly approaches and Minnesota seems likely to have two first-round picks, Wolves fans are hoping that this year’s selections can help turn the franchise around.
Despite some draft-day misses, particularly during the first half of the 2010s, the Wolves have also hit on some very solid picks over the past ten years of the draft.
Let’s take a look at how the Wolves’ 12 first-round picks rank over the past decade, ranked from worst to best.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Ranking top Wolves’ draft picks of the 2010s
No. 12 to No. 8: Disappointing Turnouts
12. Wes Johnson (No. 4 pick, 2010)
Notables passed on: DeMarcus Cousins (No. 5), Greg Monroe (No. 7), Paul George (No. 10)
Before the results of Jonny Flynn’s first hip surgery took effect and before Ricky Rubio had come over from Spain for the first time, the 2010 season brought with it a lot of excitement for Timberwolves basketball.
Wes Johnson would end up underwhelming as a rookie and eventually was traded to Phoenix with a first-round pick in exchange for three second-round picks in 2012. Although Johnson ended up sticking in the league for a long time as a sort of journeyman role player, he never quite lived up to his No. 4 draft slot.
The 2010 draft wasn’t a particularly strong class overall, but our Ben Beecken wrote about the Wolves’ strong consideration for Paul George, who ended up falling to No. 10.
What could have been…
11. Shabazz Muhammad (No. 14 pick, 2013)
Notables passed on: CJ McCollum (No.10), Giannis Antetokounmpo (No, 15), Dennis Schröder (No. 17)
In 2013, Minnesota traded the No. 9 pick (Trey Burke) for Nos. 14 and 21. Muhammad falls this low on the list primarily because of the player who was drafted right after him: Giannis Antetekounmpo.
In Muhammad’s second season with the Wolves, he played 38 games and averaged 13.5 points per game on 49 percent shooting and 39 percent from 3-point range. However, those numbers failed to hold up in year three, and by year five he was out of Minnesota and out of the league shortly after.
10. Derrick Williams (No. 2 pick, 2011)
Notables passed on: Enes Kanter (No. 3), Tristan Thompson (No. 4), Jonas Valanciunas (No. 5)
It’s hard to put too much blame on the Wolves’ front office for drafting Derrick Williams considering the quality of players who were drafted after him. Moving down the draft, names like Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard begin to pop up in the late lottery, but those likely weren’t serious considerations at No. 2.
According to Bball Index’s PIPM, Williams failed to make a net-positive impact on offense or defense any season except one, which is disappointing from a No. 2 pick.
Although it was enjoyable to watch him catch lob passes from Ricky Rubio for a few years, he was always an awkward fit next to Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, and the scoring acumen he showed in college never quite translated to the NBA.
9. Justin Patton (No. 16 pick, 2017)
Notables passed on: TJ Leaf (No. 18), John Collins (No. 19), Harry Giles (No. 20)
Injuries have been a big part of Patton’s slow development in the NBA thus far. Since 2017, he’s played in just nine NBA games, spending most of his time with various G League squads.
Patton is with the Oklahoma City Thunder now and could still turn out to be a decent NBA player, but was never what Minnesota expected when they traded for the pick.
Interestingly, the rights to draft Patton were traded to Minnesota as part of the Jimmy Butler deal with Chicago in 2016, and then Patton and Butler were flipped to Philadelphia together in 2018.
8. Kris Dunn (No. 5 pick, 2016)
Notables passed on: Buddy Hield (No. 6), Jamal Murray (No. 7), Marquese Chriss (No. 8)
This really wasn’t a terrible pick. Kris Dunn has become one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. If his jump shot had ever developed, or even if it develops now with the Chicago Bulls or another team, he could still be a very valuable player.
While it would have been nice to add Hield or Murray to the Wolves’ young core of Rubio, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns, Dunn turned out to be a major piece of the trade that brought Jimmy Butler to Minnesota.